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  • 1. Journal of Education and Practice www.iiste.orgISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online)Vol 2, No 4, 2011 Governance Issues of Girls’ Education in Pakistan: Key Concerns, Challenges and a Way Forward Saubia Ramzan Institute of Management Sciences, University of Balochistan, Quetta Pakistan. Tel: 0092 3458341307 Email: saubia7@yahoo.comAbstractThe battle for gender justice has been a long drawn struggle. Girls hold a distinct character in every socialstructure. Societies have improved their socio-cultural structures and economic pursuits through girls’education around the globe. Social consciousness and acquisition of knowledge support girls to becomeempowered in the society. The paper reveals the problems and challenges in the governance of girls’education in Pakistan. It discusses various key issues and challenges in the good governance of femaleeducation in a developing society. The study comprises of qualitative analysis, reviews and semi-structured observations using the triangulation approach. The paper critically analyses various programsfor girls’ education in the perspective of legal and strategic alliances with different public, private andnon-governmental sector. It explores that progression in girls’ education is dependent on good governanceby recognizing the socio-cultural, political and economic rights of girls in the society through eliminatingthe violence and sexual harassment practices. The paper further proposes a way forward for a frameworkof good governance of girls’ education in Pakistan.Keywords:Governance, Girls’ education, Socio-cultural environment, Equality, Equity, NGOs, Empowerment,Autonomy, Decentralization, Monitoring and Evaluation, Girls Education Information Systems-GEIS,Restructuring.1 Girls’ Education in PakistanSocieties around the globe have improved the economic, social, political and cultural lives of the nationsthrough education. Education plays an imperative role in raising well groomed human capital in thesociety through skill development and capacity building. Skilled human resource produces effectivenessand efficiency in performance thus contributing towards self-sustained society. Well orchestrated andeasily accessible education system for all guarantees the progression of a country. Equality and equity inthe provision of educational facilities reasonably result in building intellectual capital among the masses ifprovided without socio-economic divide. Developing societies lack awareness about the notion of multiplefemininities and masculinities in the discourse on education, Pakistan has no exception. Contrary to thisview, acquisition of knowledge and consciousness are conducive for girls in order to empower them in thecommunity. Education enhances the cognitive ability by raising the sense of self-esteem among girls forachieving a desirable social setup in the country. This proves to be a strategic reserve for the progressionof a society.Desaulniers. M (2009) states in the article on “Educating Girls in the Developing World” that the mostviable solution for gender equality and socio-economic independence in the developing world is universaleducation for girls. It further argues that international organizations like United Nations and World Bankdeem girls’ education as a primary catalyst for economic growth and stability for developing region. Theauthor added that girls’ education can yield highest returns on all investments in the developing world bybringing meaningful changes in their communities. This concept is further elucidated as follows; “The reason is that educated girls tend to make personal benefits communal, thus extending the possibilities for further growth and returns. Expansion in women’s labor force and earnings has translated into widening circles of economic and social stability. Matriarchies or leadership based on woman power are often nurturing and community oriented. 41
  • 2. Journal of Education and Practice www.iiste.orgISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online)Vol 2, No 4, 2011 First of all, a mothers education is replicated in her childrens initiatives. Children, especially girls, with an educated mother are more likely to seek similar opportunities and achievement. Each additional year of formal education attained by the mother means longer retention in school for her children.” (Desaulniers. M :2009)It reflects that girls’ education plays a pivotal role in social development of a community which eventuallywould contribute towards restructuring of societies. There has been a consensus on the issue thateducational reforms are imperative while fair accessibility and participation of girls to educationalopportunities have been critical in Pakistan. It is significant to mention that education sector needs to begoverned and managed effectively and efficiently in order to fulfill the global knowledge economy.Improved quality of teaching and learning, autonomy in decision making and balanced contemporaryapproach in policy formulation are the key issues for the governance of girls’ education in the country.Good governance contributes an imperative role in the institutional as well as corporate sector of thesociety. Blom and Cheong (2010:xii) indicate that good governance underpins the support and mission ofthe institutions, creating sound, ethical and sustainable strategy acceptable to the institutions as a wholeand other key stakeholders. It further states that good governance oversees the implementation of suchstarted though well considered processes and procedures in an open, transparent and honest mannerguaranteeing autonomy of the institutions. This perspective vividly portrays that female education remainsneglected when it is not provided with full autonomy in strategy formulation and transparency inimplementation processes. In this context, the acquisition of knowledge and values for girls has been asignificant concern in Pakistan which depicts shortfalls in governance of girls’ educational system that hasnot yet been conducive for girls in the region. It has been observed that good governance models can workwhen applied practically on the principles in the developing sector. Girls’ education has been a serioussubject regarding public and non-governmental sector in Pakistan but desirable targets have not yet beenachieved. Harmony in views exist that weakness in implementing the strategies for girls’ education inPakistan remained a crucial problem in terms of achieving the desired ends. Governance of girls’education is faced by critical problems and challenges in decision making, controlling the resources andaccountability among communities. Good governance in education sector specifically for females requiresevolving processes, restructuring of institutions, intelligent organization of matters and collectivenegotiation among communities. The intelligent solution lies in the implementation of principles ofgovernance by bridging all constituencies influencing a girl’s life to ensure her right of education.This paper focuses on major key issues and challenges to the governance of girls’ education in a muslimsociety like Pakistan. Following text presents some critical issues and framework of governance of girls’education in Pakistan. Government estimates of the overall dropout rate suggest that only 30 per cent of students continue beyond the primary level (Planning Commission, 2009). The literacy rate (for population aged ten and over) has improved by barely one to two per cent per annum over the last decade, which makes it impossible to achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015. Recent surveys indicate that the literacy gap, always much more pronounced in rural Pakistan, has also ‘improved’ but is still strongly associated with gender. The majority of those missing out on education are the most vulnerable and economically marginalized segments of society, including women. Only 35 per cent of rural women above the age of ten have completed primary education (PLSM, 2008). Pakistan still enrolls 83 girls for every 103 boys in primary schools. The primary completion rate for girls is only 58 per cent as opposed to 70 per cent for boys. Of the 6.8 million currently estimated to be out of school in Pakistan, at least 4.2 million are girls (World Bank, 2008). In some parts of Baluchistan, adult female literacy ranges from one to three per cent – one of the lowest levels across the world (PSLM, 2006-07).It can be analyzed that attainment of education with the gender distinction exists in Pakistan along urbanand rural divide. UNESCO (2009) reported that one girl for every three boys attends school in the poorestrural households. The observations have been the result of surveys conducted by United NationsConventions to eliminate discrimination against women but the gap still exists along gender and income 42
  • 3. Journal of Education and Practice www.iiste.orgISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online)Vol 2, No 4, 2011lines. The statistics about girls in rural areas above the age of ten having completed the primary educationis only 35% according to the survey conducted by “Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurements:2008” which is significantly low. The completion of primary education for girls depends on the quality ofteachers and facilities provided at the primary schools.Major issue confronting girls’ education governance is lack of legal common framework on which goalsshould be defined for ultimate achievement. Girls in a muslim federation like Pakistan face manychallenges in attaining educational facilities due to wrong perceptions about religion in the society.Despite increased awareness about the significance of female education in Pakistan, drastic changes havebeen at slow pace. The attitudes are deeply rooted in traditional form of structures of family and genderroles. Following text by Qureshi & Rarieya (2007:19) elucidate this idea as; “The feudal culture and the absence of democracy (and democratic attitudes) also promote inequalities by creating powerlessness among large sections of poor people, including women. Feudalism perpetuates an unsafe environment where the disempowered in general, and girls/women in particular, are vulnerable to assault, kidnapping, physical violence and honour killing which is often socially, and until recently, legally condoned. The above attitudes find sympathy in a rigid and restrictive and often misleading interpretation of the status of women in Islam which is also used to create barriers for women’s access to family and public resources.”The mentioned text reflects that such socio-cultural constraints restrict girls to participate in productiveconcerns causing great hindrance in governing the girls’ educational institutions in the society. Thisscenario is worsened in rural areas while urban sectors somehow present better environment of educationfor girls but there is no such legal protection that exist on the part of government to eliminate such issuesfrom amongst the society. Rihani. M. A. et.al (2006:9) reported in AED annual report that there aregreater gender disparities as well. Girls’ educational attainment in Pakistan continues to lag behind thelevel of education attained by boys. This is seen in school enrollment figures and literacy levels whichreveal that large number of girls have limited access to even basic schooling. It further states that theoverall literacy rate in Pakistan is alarmingly low at just 18 percent for rural females. The most seriousgender gaps in Pakistan are in the rural regions of the country. According to an article “Governance andEducation” by Soomro. A. (2011), an analysis conducted by a national NGO Strengthening ParticipatoryOrganization (SPO); “This must be juxtaposed with the fact that in many areas of Pakistan social norms and mores are already averse to girls` education. The lack of basic facilities in a large number of schools is a clear example of the low priority accorded to girls` education. The prevailing conditions contribute towards creating poverty of opportunities for girls who are discouraged at the very first stage: that of education. Perhaps with an idea already of the situation, SPO did not collect data about the availability of facilities such as computers, libraries and science labs. Ideally, all these facilities would be available in Pakistan`s schools if our policymakers were serious about their commitment to providing equitable education. A lot of money is earmarked in each year`s budget to improve school facilities. Where does that money go and why have we seen no improvement despite the sums poured into education? Who should we apply to for information on the whereabouts of the funds? While it is true that funds for education are relatively lacking, the fact remains that we must ensure greater transparency and accountability in the utilization of whatever funds are available. Otherwise, plans for a percentage increase for the sector in the GDP allocation will be viewed with suspicion.”Taking this into account, girls’ education has never been considered as priority by the stakeholders,therefore, the amount invested in raising the standard and quality of girls’ education has no accountability.Moreover, another issue for promoting girls’ education in Pakistan is insufficient financing and low 43
  • 4. Journal of Education and Practice www.iiste.orgISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online)Vol 2, No 4, 2011government spending. The eminent realities of this society have resulted in overall poor performance.There is no such public ally available for gender segregated analysis of the distribution of the budget ingovernment documents, however, annual reports of non-governmental sector reveal that a gender gap inpublic expenditure on boys’ and girls’ education exist in Pakistan. (Qureshi & Rarieya, 2007:25). On theother hand, government lacks strategic planning at institutional levels for girls’ education which is anotherconsiderable concern that causes hindrance in its authority. Intelligent strategies for affordability, equalityand equity, access and quality are required for introducing girls’ education at the end of governing bodies.Policies are designed but implementation is not ensured for the specified period of time. It has beenobserved that there is no such alignment of strategies with the state’s priorities, therefore, these strategiesremain useless unless practically implemented.Evidently, training and development processes result in premeditated progression of individuals andorganizations. Dearth of appropriate professional development opportunities for faculty and institutionalleadership has negative impacts on the governance process of girls’ education. It further generates lack ofexpertise in mentoring and technical assistance to the institutions resulting in weak structure of femaleeducational programs in Pakistan. Furthermore, there is a prevailing attitude of lack of alliances withinacademics and industry thus keeping the education sector segregated from the practical learningenvironment. Moreover, collaboration in the strategy formulation at social, political, economic andeducational levels is lacking which reflects that single strategy for educational reforms can not prove to befruitful for such socio-cultural environment. Sexual harassment and violence practices are common evilsin the society, therefore, consciousness need to be raised for such evils for promoting girls’ education inthe region.Based on the above debate, a framework for resolving the governance issues is presented in the followingtext providing a way forward for governing bodies in Pakistan.2 A Way Forward for Good Governance of Girls’ EducationFollowing are the propositions for proper governance of girls’ education in Pakistan that can support torestructure the declining education system.2.1 Legal Framework for Governance of Girls’ EducationProper constitutional framework for girls’ education needs to be introduced in order to protect the legalrights of females in the community. This would encompass clear statements of objectives andresponsibilities of governing bodies with autonomy and accountability. The proposed measure wouldenhance the sense of responsibility among boards and executives and improve the awareness of rightsamong individuals. Administrative and academic governing bodies may be protected against the externalpressures of different groups. Moreover, the structure of girls’ education would be constituted as anautonomous institution in Pakistan which would be enabled to protect its rights in the society.2.2 Strategic PlanningThe subject under debate depicts that one of the major governing issue confronted to girls’ education inPakistan is lack of strategic planning. It requires intelligent planning and decision making at all level thatcould serve as strategic reserve for the empowerment of women in the country. There is a strong need ofalignment of policies with the national priorities for accessibility, affordability, equality, parity and qualityof education for girls. This issue needs to be addressed on the basis of diversity in education observing therights of girls to be educated regardless of religion, race and ethnicity. Such strategies can prove to be arestructuring agent for the glass-ceiling that exists in Pakistan for the provision of educationalopportunities to girls.2.3 Autonomy of Institutions and DecentralizationAutonomy of girls’ educational institutions can ensure more responsibility and accountability in processesand procedures. Decentralization of powers and authority is characterized by effectiveness and efficiencyin administrative and political pursuits. In the same context, delegation of power is more extensive form ofdecentralization in which power and responsibility are transferred to the constituent units under the controlof central governing body. Decentralization in girls’ educational programs is desirable in current scenario 44
  • 5. Journal of Education and Practice www.iiste.orgISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online)Vol 2, No 4, 2011where the provincial units can exercise their authority and responsibility according to the socio-culturalenvironment. Decentralized processes in education sector play an essential role in broadening participationin political, economic and social activities in developing countries. This would assist to cut complexbureaucratic procedures by improved government officials’ sensitivity and awareness to local conditionsand needs. Decentralization process focuses geographically at the local levels by improved coordination atnational, provincial and district level programs that would provide better opportunities for participation oflocal women in education.2.4 Public, Private and Non-Governmental SectorNon-governmental organizations (NGOs) globally play an eminent role in advocacy and provision ofgirls’ education as compared to public sector. Therefore, alliances could be developed from amongstpublic, private and NGO sector in order to ensure optimum utilization of resources and professional skills.Long-term partnership would enable the government to restructure the girls’ education setup within thecountry to resolve insufficient financing issue. Such partnerships will strategically support the educationsector in terms of provision of better physical infrastructure, trained faculty and pragmatic approach ofteaching and learning for girls. One of the expected outcomes of such alliances is the increasedparticipation of women in education and its management. In this perspective, positive impact of thispartnership eventually results in building schools for girls, involvement of local women in operatinginstitutions and autonomy to community based organizations (CBOs) to mobilize women for work.Moreover, the study about the developmental works in girls’ education in the past decade reflect thatvillage education committees, social action programs and community education foundations have provedto present more potential of work in such alliances.2.5 Coalition of Ministries for Recognition of Girls’ RightsAll such efforts remain raw until coalition of two important ministries of education and womendevelopment is formed. Alliances of these ministries can promote coordinated planning and evaluation ofinnovative policies and programs for girls’ education. Girls’ education at all levels is highly associatedwith the recognition of their socio-cultural and economic rights that can give them a required status in thesociety. Acceptance of women’s social and economic rights and protection form sexual harassment andviolence is the major stride in recognition of their educational rights. Therefore, coalition of social,political and financial strategies for girls is the overwhelming practice toward their overall developmentinstead of a single educational strategy.2.6 Training and Development of Leadership and FacultyTraining and development is a consistent process for organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Lack ofstrategic planning and critical thinking are the result of weak professional development of academics andadministrative bodies. Training and development processes with innovative approach need to be launchedfor educational leadership and faculty in order to provide advocacy for girls’ education in the region.Proper professional development would result in intelligent decision making, problem-solving andcognitive skills among administrators thus equipping them with better understanding of the issue.2.7 Girls’ Education Information System - GEISGirls’ Education Information System – GEIS would assist the decision makers for data validation,reporting and problem solving with complete informational technology assistance. This informationsystem would serve as a strong tool for teaching and learning environment. The GEIS would provide aplatform for global networking that can integrate various other international networks in order to extendassistance for strategy formulation, academic partnership and resource sharing. Simultaneously, technicalassistance needs to be provided to the girls’ education sector for its operation and optimum utilization.2.8 Monitoring and Evaluation ProcessThere is still a dire need of consistent process of monitoring and evaluation of such projects which willguarantee its performance and effectiveness leading towards a way forward for setting the needs of futureprograms. This would ultimately indicate the gap between the current and expected performance whichwill form the foundations of need analysis resulting in establishment of objectives for fresh and innovative 45
  • 6. Journal of Education and Practice www.iiste.orgISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online)Vol 2, No 4, 2011programs. Therefore, this process proves to be a strong pillar in chalking out the objectives for futureprograms thus enhancing the performance of current projects.Concisely, the review of policies and practices during the past years depict that there has been a consistentacknowledgement of the need of strengthening the girls’ education programs with the intention to achievegender parity. Various programs have resulted in increased participation of girls to educational institutionsbut government has not been successful in achieving the millennium development goals by recent years.Problems like drop out rates, low enrollment rate and increased gender gap are still confronted by thegoverning bodies. The statement of increased participation does not match with the targets, however,reform interventions mainly depend on improved allocation of budget in girls’ education with theinvolvement of donor agencies to upgrade its status. Close vigilance on accountability, corruption,political interference and under utilization of funds is the need of time.Additionally, a greater challenge in governance of girls’ education is to improve the status of education atprimary as well as higher education level while Pakistan education policy and programming have mainlyfocused primary education of girls in the provinces with community participation. Universal primary,secondary and higher education of girls should be the desirable goals of government. This can not be doneuntil such programs are coordinated among education ministry and the ministry of women development.The semi-structured observations of this study reveal that protection of woman’s social and economicrights from violence and sexual harassment would ensure her rights of education in Pakistan. Moreover,advancement in education system depends on several interactive factors like promoting gender-parity andequality in education at all levels to contribute to socio-cultural and economic contexts. Intelligent goodgovernance is required to recognize the socio-cultural and economic rights of girls thus by promoting therights of girls’ education in the society. 46
  • 7. Journal of Education and Practice www.iiste.orgISSN 2222-1735 (Paper) ISSN 2222-288X (Online)Vol 2, No 4, 2011ReferencesAzim, S. A. (2008). Women in Islam Versus Women in the Judaco. Christian Tradition – The Myth andThe Reality. Canada: Queens University.Blom, A, and CHEONG, J. (2010). Governance of Technical Education in India – Key Issues, Principlesand Case Studies. Washington D.C: The World Bank. Xii, 2010.Cavalier, R. P. (2000). Personal Motivation: A Model for Decision Making. London: Praeger,.Collard, J. (2001) Leadership and Gender: An Interview with Carol SHAKESHAFT Leading andManaging. US: Jossey Bass.Collard, J, and Reynolds, C. (2005). Leadership, Gender & Culture in Education – Male & FemalePerspectives. UK: Open University Press.Dandavate, P. (2002). Social Roots of Gender Injustice. India: Indian Journal of Adult Education.Desaulniers, M. (2009). Educating Girls in the Developing World – Education, Economic Independenceand Communal Growth, Youth Development suite 101.com. (Sep 20,2009).Ganihar, N. N, and Begum, S. (2007). Gender Issues and Women Empowerment. India: Sachin Printers.Kimmel, M.S. (2004). The Gendered Society. New York: Oxford University Press.Mena. (2004). Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa – Women in the PublicSphere. Washington. D.C: The World Bank.Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement Survey (PSLM), (2008-09). Pakistan: StatisticsDivision, Federal Bureau of Statistics.Qureshi, R, and Rarieya, J. (2007). Gender and Education in Pakistan. Pakistan: Amazon.co.pk.Rihani, M.A, Kays, L, and Psaki, S. (2006). Keeping the Promise – Five Benefits of Girls SecondaryEducation. USA: AED.Shaukat, A. (2009). Delivering Girls’ Education in Pakistan. UK: Oxfam GB Discussion Discount,Oxfam International, www.oxfam.org.uk.Smulyan, L. (1999). Balancing Acts: Women Principals at Work. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Soomro, A. (2011). Governance and Education. Dawn.com. (Jan 24, 2011).Tembon, M. (2008). Girls Education in 21st Centaury, Gender Equality, Empowerment and EconomicGrowth. The World Bank.Thomson, P. (1999). How Doing Justice Got Boxed in : A Cautionary Tale for Policy Activists, in A. Reidand B. Johnson (eds) Contesting the Curriculum. Sydney: Social Science Press.United Nations Girls Education Initiative UNGEI, (2010). Launch of the UNGEI Pakistan Girls’Education Initiative Statement.Wood, J. T. (2005). Gendered Lives – Communication, Gender, & Culture. 6th Edition. US: ThomsonWadsworth.World Bank: http://worldbank.org.Women for Women’s Human Rights: http://www.undp.uz/GID/eng/Turkey/NGO/wwhr_tr.html.Women in Businesses in the Arab World: http://www.undpforwomeninbusiness.com.Women Watch: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/. 47